Thursday, June 9, 2011

In the first 48 hours in Beijing...

  • I've seen the AQI (air quality index) go from 25 on what my friend said was the "clearest day in Beijing he's ever seen" to a pretty smoggy 250 (but I know that's not as bad as it could be!)
  • Visited the 798 art district with my friend Jason who is DJing a benefit event on the weekend - pretty cool stuff except Jason kept telling me how it went from being a haven for avant garde artists to just another commercialized tourist spot.
  • Tried Peking Duck (it was cheap, but good). I also discovered my horrible skills at Chinese chopsticks, which I hear are thicker and heavier than Korean/Japanese ones. I mean, I already suck at chopsticks as it is, but this will be good training I hope.
  • Spent 3 hours in the Forbidden City - they really weren't kidding when they said city. I was expecting something like the Imperial Garden in Tokyo, but as my friend Ning said - in China, bigger means more power. With giant halls for the emperor to change clothes, have tea, even rest on his way to the gate (because it would haven taken nearly an hour to walk to the entrance - it was that big),  I was pretty impressed, but I've heard the Summer Palace is prettier, so I think I'll have many other moments when Beijing will take my breath away. Also want to hit up the temples - yeah, you know I'm a sucker for temples. 
  • Watched Kung Fu Panda in 3-D - awesome!
  • Tried to take a cab on my own - only to have the driver say I could walk to where I was trying to get to, according to the little Chinese that I knew. I smiled, said OK, and started walking to the direction he pointed to. It actually took almost a half hour and I constantly asked people along the way for directions to make sure I was right - most people kept saying they weren't from Beijing (I think) but somehow I found my way. First use of Chinese in China - it's always a little nervewracking at first, maybe even more embarrassing to oneself, but fun too. Brought back memories of last summer - and my first time using Japanese was in a cab too! Looking forward to using the foreigner's card to mess up in Chinese as much as I can this summer :)
(OK I lied about posting a list of goals. I made a list, which I thought was pretty solid, except that I couldn't think of any for China. I'm become more and more aware of how biased I am toward Japan - on my four-stop flight to Beijing (yes, four stops and a total traveling time of 32+ hours), I got a chance to swing by Narita again. And I almost ... didn't want to leave? Maybe it was just hearing Japanese again that soothed me (or even the minor dread of stomach upset and comparative uncleanliness I expected of China), but I couldn't help grinning like a kid as I strolled around the airport. Oh well, I know I'll have a year in Japan soon enough, so this was really all irrational thinking...)

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    Kelly McLaughlin said...

    Yes, cabs provided me many notable moments when I was living in Korea. Any theories why this tends to be true for so many Fellows?

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